Haussermann, John (1909-1986) | University of Illinois Archives
John Haussermann Jr. was born on August 21, 1909 in Manila, Philippines. His father was the attorney general of the first American civil government in the Philippines and wrote the city charter for Manila before moving with his family to New Richmond, Ohio, in 1915. Afflicted with cerebral palsy from childhood, Haussermann studied music at the Cincinnati Conservatory from 1924-1927 and at Colorado College soon thereafter. In 1930, he traveled to Paris to study organ. While in Paris he became friends with Maurice Ravel and began serious study of composition with Le Flem. In 1934 Haussermann moved back to Cincinnati, where he founded a contemporary concert series. That year, Goossens led the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra in the first performance of Haussermann's Nocturne.
The Cincinnati Symphony subsequently performed many of Haussermann's orchestral works, including his best-known composition, the Voice Concerto (1942). After moving to Briarcliff, New York, Haussermann had an organ built jointly by Aeolian-Skinner and Holtkamp, and loaned it to the 1939 New York World's Fair, for which he established an organ committee that sponsored recitals and compositions. He occasionally made public appearances as an organist, performing his own compositions and improvisations. In 1940, he founded the American Colorlight Music Society, which promoted the theories of Alexander Skryabin. Hausserman died in Denver, Colorado on May 5, 1986.
Haussermann's compositional process involved dictating his compositions by playing a single note at a time on the piano while an assistant confirmed his work on a second instrument. Haussermann's works have a Chopinesque fluency and are rhythmically propulsive (though regular) and metrically fluid, with a French sensibility in their whole-tone harmonies.